Romans 8:1-17, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be Spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” [King James Version]
“Romans chapter 8 brings us to a crescendo, as Paul is building these ideas, from the first chapter, that all have sinned, what sin is, what God’s wrath is, that God is just, that no one seeks after God, no not one, everyone’s gone to his own way, he says. And he says, ‘By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified before God.’ That brings us to where we are saved by grace through faith, and that in doing it that way, God can both be just and the justifier of the ungodly. Because that’s true, we’re no longer bound by sin, we’re no longer bound by a life of sin. Where sin abounds, grace doth much more abound. Should we then sin that grace should abound? God forbid, that’s not the point. The point is, because God’s grace is at work in our life, we don’t need to yield ourselves to the carnal nature. Well, what does that mean then? Then we should just do religious things? No, chapter 7, you don’t have the ability of yourself to do that either. You find this law, when you want to do good, evil is close at hand, with your heart you serve the law of God, but in your flesh, your fallen nature, you serve the law of sin. There is the part of you that is consistently, unerringly attracted to sin and the world, that nature. [as we saw in Romans 6, our sin nature is dead, but we still have the flesh, Satan’s pager---cell-phone inside of us] Not the physical frame, but the flesh pager-signal that’s attached to it that finds its way through the physical frame. [i.e. that cell-phone-pager connection via the spirit-in-man within each of us.] “Who’s going to deliver us from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:24-25) And because we’re in Christ, positionally---if you’re saved this evening, you are in Christ. As God looks down from heaven, and he looks on you, he’s the God who calls things that are not as though they were, he sees you finished, justified, sanctified and glorified. Because positionally you’re in Christ. He sees Christ’s work effective in your life in regards to what he’s done on Calvary. He sees Christ’s work effective in your life as to what he is today, and he sees Christ’s work effective in your life as to what he will complete, so justified, sanctified, glorified---the One who was, the One who is, the One who is to come---God sees it that way.
“There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus…to them which walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”
And because of that now, he comes to this point, and he says, “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”, verse 1, “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Great news, there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ. It doesn’t say “there is no weakness”. It doesn’t say “there are no mess-ups”. It doesn’t say “there are no failures”. It doesn’t say “there are no difficulties, there are no failings, there are no short-comings, there are no manifestations of our fallen nature under pressure.” What he says is “There is no condemnation”, which means to judge downward, which means to have a sentence passed that no one can make an appeal to. “That there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We’re still in progress, we are growing, not into sanctification, we are growing in sanctification. Not into it, we’re already in it, it’s effective in our lives, and Christ is being formed in us, we’re going from glory to glory. But because we are in Christ [in Messiah for our Messianic believers], the sentence of damnation, eternal, present, finds no place in us. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I like that. We could stay here for awhile. Donald Gray Barnhouse says, “Hey, if we lift our voices and jump up and down and scream when our favorite football team wins, if we would scream when our candidate gets elected, if we would let out a cheer when we find out our lottery ticket just hit, if we would celebrate when our mother-in-law goes back home, whatever, you know there’s all kinds of things in life that make us jump up and down and scream.” He says this is jumpin’ up and down screaming stuff---there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I like that. [applause] Now you have to be in Christ Jesus [Yeshua haMeshiach] to appreciate it. If you’re here tonight and you’re not in Christ Jesus, you’re probably already thinking we’re much crazier than we really are. [chuckles] But if you’re in Christ there’s no condemnation. Now he says, “to them which walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Now there’s a lot of people in the media that’s going to say ‘That’s not in the best manuscripts, that’s not in the best texts.’ It’s in some. It’s in verse 4. So it isn’t like it doesn’t exist. It says the exact same thing. And as we look into this passage and begin to understand it, that won’t bother you, you’ll understand it’s a good thing [that last part of verse 1]. Because one of the mistakes that people make is they look at this passage in chapter 8, they begin to think ‘Well this is a comparison between carnal Christians and spiritual Christians---that carnal Christians are carnally minded and that means death, and spiritual Christians are spiritually minded---no, no, that’s not where we’re going and that’s not what he’s saying, and none of the language and none of the grammar lends itself to that. Are there carnal Christians? Of course there are. You could probably stand up and point at one tonight. And if you did, you’d be one too. [laughter] Yes there are. Corinthians tells us that. But our comparison here is between those that are in Adam [totally non-believers, not indwelt by the Holy Spirit] and those that are in Christ---those that are in the Spirit, of the Spirit, possessed with the Spirit, and those that are not. The comparison that he will set up is between those that are carnal [not born-again in the Spirit] and those that are spiritual, those that are saved, and those that are unsaved. That’s where he’s going. So when he says here, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in”---positionally---“Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit”---that’s good news for us, because we are not those who walk habitually after the flesh. We are those, as a habit, who walk after the Spirit. Does that mean we never get mad in traffic? No, I know that by experience. No, it doesn’t mean that. Does it mean that we never wrestle with wrong thoughts? No it doesn’t mean that. What it means is, there’s been a change in us---because the living Christ has indwelled us, his Spirit has moved in. Therefore we are people who walk after, are inclined to, are led by God’s Holy Spirit. That is the direction of our life, that is the inclination of our life. It’s something that’s happened within us by a supernatural work of God. And as we were, before we were saved, at that time inclined only to the flesh, to the fallen nature, to the things that appeal to the flesh---that’s changed. So there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit---that’s us, those that are saved. It’s good news. “For the law”---and he’s going to say now, I’m only going to take note of something here.
The law of sin and death verses the law of the Spirit of life
In chapter 7, we didn’t have the Holy Spirit mentioned one time. We had “I”, “me”, “mine” forty-seven times. We had “the law” mentioned, I think, twenty-three times. But here in chapter 8, the Holy Spirit is mentioned nineteen times. Also, Paul’s building the word “for” is mentioned seventeen times. Look, in verse 2 it says “for”. In verse 3 it says “for”, in verse 5 it says “for”, in verse 6 it says “for”, verse 7 is “because”, verse 8 is “so”. Verse 9 is “but”, verse 10 is “And”, “but”. And if you look down, “for”, “for”, “for”, he just continues to build this idea. So there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, “for”, reason being, “the law of the Spirit of life”---notice---“in Christ Jesus”---not in you---“in Christ Jesus”---positionally---“hath made me free from the law of sin and of death.” The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, he’s going to tell us, is a higher, more superior, more overriding, more powerful law than the law of sin and death. The law of sin and death governed our lives before we came to Christ. [He’s talking about our carnal nature, which acted like a law within our being. He’s not calling the law of sin and death the law of God. He’s properly interpreted this according to context from Romans 7.] Now, in Christ, the law of the Spirit of life is superior to the law of sin and death, is the dominating force in our life. The other law of sin and death [our flesh cf. Romans 6] is subject to it. So there’s a higher law at work within us now. He’s going to develop that as he goes on. “The law of the Spirit of life, in Christ Jesus, has set us free from the law of sin and death.” Now they’re both beckoning. It doesn’t say it [the law of sin] doesn’t exist in our consciousness anymore, it doesn’t say that it doesn’t appeal to us, the law of sin and death. We have the effects of it in our physical body. When we go through these passages and Paul talks about “the flesh”, here’s he talking about the nature, not just the muscle tissue, but the fallen nature [what he really means is the fleshly signal we all are subject to through the spirit-in-man, or spirit of man, directly in tune with Satan’s wavelength, evil broadcast, talked about in Romans 6]. In fact, when he talks about “the mind of the Spirit”, he’s not talking about the brain. It’s interesting to study it. The mind of something is much broader than the brain. The brain is the piece of meat inside the bone, that’s the brain. [Some carnally minded people are referred to as “meat-heads” and some more dense types as “bone-heads”.] The mind is something different, more undefined. Because we’re all born with a piece of meat and bone, and somehow we develop mind. [Read 1 Corinthians 2:9-11.] “The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death, for what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son”---or---‘God, did or accomplished by sending his own Son’---“in the likeness”---notice, it’s not ‘in sinful flesh---“in the likeness of sinful flesh, and”---King James says “for”---and the idea is “a sacrifice for sin”---“in that he condemned sin in the flesh.” (verses 2-3) Now he’s taking us back. We’re all sitting here this evening with Adam’s genes and chromosomes. Whether you like it or not, look around, we’re all one family---all got the same great grandparents [going back to many ‘great, great, greats’]. We all got off the boat together in Noah. And beyond that Adam and Eve, we’re all the same family, we all have the same genes and chromosomes, DNA. It’s never been monkey DNA, and it never will. And we all have the same fallen nature, inherited from Grandpa Adam. Jesus, Yeshua, came in the likeness, looked, like, it was a human body, but the sin nature was not driving it. [i.e. Jesus had the indwelling Holy Spirit from birth.] He was sinless. So he came in the likeness of sinful flesh. And God, what he couldn’t do through the law, because of the weakness that human beings have, of the flesh, of the fallen nature, God did accomplish by sending his Son as a sacrifice for sin, and in that, God condemned, once and for all, sin in the flesh---the same flesh we’re wearing---the same sentence we face has been settled, God condemned sin in the flesh, he says, “that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled”---isn’t this wonderful?---not ‘by us’, that would put us right back to chapter 1 and bomb us out again---“that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit” (verse 4). Now it’s very interesting, because it says “the righteousness of the law is fulfilled”---that’s passive in the grammar, it means you don’t do it, it ain’t you, it’s something that God has done through the plan of salvation that was enacted before the foundation of the world. Christ died according to predeterminate counsel and foreknowledge of God, and in that act, sin was condemned in the flesh. And because you and I have been born of the same Spirit, we’re going to get there, that raised Christ from the dead, we are no longer subject to the law of sin and death. ‘But because we are in Christ, we are now bound by living in, committed to, not by ourselves but by God, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, that the righteous requirements of the law might be fulfilled---by God---in us who walk not after the flesh’—the tense is who walk, who don’t habitually walk after the flesh---‘but who walk habitually after the Spirit.’ Now he’s going to tell us why.
Comparison between those that are saved and those that are unsaved
Verse 5, begins with the word “for”, and from 5 to 8 he’s going to set up a comparison between those that are saved and those that are unsaved. That is important for you to understand that. Verse 5, he says this, “For they that are after the flesh”---obsessed with the things of the flesh---“they do mind the things of the flesh but they that are after”---or according to, in keeping with---“the Spirit the things of the Spirit.” The first comparison it makes between believers and unbelievers is this. Unbelievers continually mind, and live their lives according to the lustful passions of the flesh. That’s all they think about. They may come to church on---Christmas and Easter---they may say the Lord’s prayer…they may work at the orphanage, but if there is no change in them, even though they came forward at the altar call---they’re still living in sexual sin, they’re still taking drugs, there’s been no change---Paul says, “they’re not in the Spirit.” In another place he says “Let a man or woman examine themselves, to see whether they’re genuinely in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Charles Spurgeon said, “If the grace that we talk about is not enough to change us and transform us, it won’t be enough to take us to [or into the kingdom of] heaven either.” [cf. Galatians 5:19-21, read it.] If the Holy Spirit we tell people about is not powerful enough to change us from our sinful ways to righteous ways, then we don’t have the Spirit who is going to raise us from the dead and take us to heaven either. If you say you’re a Christian, live like a Christian. If you ain’t saved, get saved. But don’t walk around, and it’s very vogue in our society today to say ‘Oh, I read the Bible, but I live in this lifestyle.’ ‘I read the Bible, but it’s OK for me to have a harem.’ ‘Oh, I read the Bible, but it’s OK for me to stay stoned on LSD or marijuana, that’s fine because it’s natural, and I get parked with God and daaah…’ you know. Cut me a break. If you’re saved, your life gets changed because the Spirit of God sets you free from the law of sin and death, and interjects into you with all the power of heaven---the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus---and that’s transforming. [applause] So the first comparison is, there’s change. If you are just carnally minded, continually, you’re not saved. Because even a backslider, even when you run into a backslider---‘Oh but I’m not, oh I know I shouldn’t be livin’ like this’---and you see that wrestling going on, and you pray, ‘Lord, just keep this person miserable, don’t let them off the burner until they get their feet back on the path again.’ It’s the person who says they’re a Christian and lives in habitual sin without any show in their conscience at all, has deceived themselves and is probably deceiving others too. And this sends a signal to the world and to our kids that it’s OK to live in a condition where there’s no change at all and call yourself a Christian. It is not. First comparison: Those who are saved, are habitually mindful of the things of the Spirit. Those that constantly mind the things of the flesh are unsaved. Because to be carnally minded, continually, is death, unto death, looking into the face of death. But to be spiritually minded is life and peace, now and forever.
The second comparison: The unsaved person, who is constantly carnally minded and indulging in the things of the flesh, is facing death---now in the consequence of it in your physical frame, and then eternally. And they may try to inebriate themselves with all of the things the world holds out---and sin is pleasurable, the Bible tells us that, for a season---but to live that way is to live facing death. And that unsaved person has no hope, tortured constantly by that ultimate issue that no one escapes. To be spiritually minded is life and peace. Hey, this ain’t heaven, we remember that. There’s pain here. There is wrestling here, there is difficulty here, there is tears here. But this is earth. This ain’t heaven. To be spiritually minded is life, and peace. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You can die and go to heaven [or the kingdom of heaven]. [laughter] Is that the worst thing or the best thing?---I’ve never been sure. The second comparison is destinies. Carnally minded---death. Spiritually minded---life, peace. “…because the carnal mind is enmity against God”---it’s antagonistic to the things of God—“it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can it be.” (verse7) So you know what it’s like to talk to somebody who’s unsaved. They’re antagonistic at you, they’re antagonistic at the words you say, because they’re antagonistic at any sense of righteousness. Jesus says that they love---agape---darkness more than light. There’s actually a devotion in an unsaved person to darkness more than light. And he says they don’t come to the light because their deeds are evil and they don’t want to bring, to come to Jesus Christ means that you’re bringing your deeds out into the light and saying ‘I’m a sinner and need forgiveness.’ But the carnal mind wants nothing to do with that. It’s at enmity, it’s antagonistic to God, it has no ability to be subject to the law of God.
“He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God” (John 3:18-21).
[Whereas, Christians, just as David did, love God’s law, and have a deep reverence for it. Just read Psalms. David was not at enmity with God or his law, no way, man.] And you know that. You go out street witnessing. You tell people about UFO’s. They’re going to listen. Tell people about the new protein diet, or no protein diet, or carbohydrate diet, tell people about the new face-lift, getting nipped and tucked and all this stuff, you know, stretched---tell people about some meditation, realization, that makes them something, tell people all this kind of stuff and people will listen. You go out and say “Jesus”---they’re walking away. Because it means Savior. [Yeshua means Yahweh-shua, meaning the Lord God saves. Yeshua is the actual Hebrew name for Jesus]. And Savior means sin [i.e. one who comes to save you from your sins]. And they don’t want to hear the “S” word. Because they know after the S word you’re going to say the D word, and after that you’re going to say the H word. [Saved, or if not, Damned, and then Hell] Yeah, that’s right. [laughter] But they have no capacity [to love God and his law, the things of God]. You can’t be mad at them in that sense. You can’t be mad at a blind man because he doesn’t appreciate the sunset---‘Hey buddy, how to do you like that, those purples and those reds?’ You know, you can’t be mad at him, he doesn’t see. But you have to understand what he’s telling us is that their mind, which is more than their brain, the mind of that person is antagonistic to the things of God, has no ability to be subject to the laws of God, or desire [to be]. “Neither indeed can they be.” Verse 8, “So then, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” No matter how many trees they hug, no matter how many spotted owls they save, no matter how many hospitals they build---if they’re attempting to get to God and to heaven [gain entry into the kingdom of heaven] by the energy of the flesh, they can’t please Him. Because, ultimately, what they’re saying is “I don’t need the sacrifice of your Son Jesus Christ, I can do this myself through my religious activity or whatever---through Oooming on my belly-button.” That’s far enough in that direction, isn’t it. [laughter]
You can see the change in a person’s life when they’re born from above
Now look in verse 9, “But ye”---in contrast to them---“are not in [the sphere of] the flesh, but in [the sphere of] the Spirit…” King James says”…if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” i.e. You are not positionally in the sphere of the flesh, you are positionally in the sphere of the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you, or because the Spirit of God dwells in you. You’re no longer in the sphere of the flesh, positionally, you’re in the sphere of the Spirit, because the very Spirit of God dwells in you. That’s a remarkable thing. [cf. John 3] “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (verse 9b). You know, we have this idea, and sometimes I think it’s been used too loosely today, born-again. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit” (John 3:6). And we use that jargon and we know what we’re talking about when we say that, but it’s become rather easily applied to lot of different circumstances. Hasn’t it? What Paul is going to tell us here, is ‘You can see the change in the person’s life when they’re born from above.’ Because “if you have not the Spirit of Christ, you are none of his.” You and I, in contrast, are not in the sphere of the flesh but in the sphere of the Spirit, because, or since the Spirit of God is dwelling in us. “And if Christ be in you”---you know, through the Spirit, he just told us that---“if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (verse 10) “But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (verse 11) So he’s told us “that there is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has set us free from the law of sin and death.” (verses 1-2) Now that’s what he’s saying down here. ‘If the Spirit of him who raised up Christ from the dead dwells in you, he’ll raise up your physical frame too, your body, from the dead if the Spirit of Christ dwells in you. [Although I don’t think our bodies will be physical any longer after the 1st resurrection to immortality. In other places in the Bible it says we’ll glow like the sun and stars after that resurrection back to life, eternal life. Like John said in 1 John 3:1-2, we’ll just have to wait and see. But Jesus did say we’d be like the angels in heaven, and they’re composed of spirit.] The body is dead because of sin. Now you’ve noticed that, the falling apart…now OK, maybe if you’re a teenager you’re thinking ‘Get it over with, we want to go to Friendly’s’, but I know at 50 what all that ice cream is going to do to you. [laughter] There is working in your physical frame this body of death, and we start to have to get help. See here, I get help seeing these days [he’s holding up his glasses]. I laid in the dentist’s office for two and a half hours yesterday, my favorite thing to do---root canals. Oh, I know, getting help with my teeth so I can keep chewing. I find myself saying ‘Huh?’ more than I ever have. ‘Huh?’ I find myself getting lost in the middle of a sentence more than I ever have. I say something, and then go comatose. I’m in the chair and there is drilling, and you have all this stuff in your mouth holding your mouth open. After you get past the needles, there’s more pain in the jaw than there is in what they’re doing, you know…I’m thinking, ‘If you drill any deeper, you’re coming through the bottom of my chin, would you please stop.’ I hate it when that happens, I mean, I can’t talk to this guy. I’m laying there thinking ‘Oh Lord, why am I here? Was there something you wanted me to learn, I can learn this on one tooth, we don’t have to do this many times, just speak to my heart Lord.’ And finally this gracious lady that’s been there helping the whole time says ‘Are you Pastor Joe?’ [loud laughter] ‘Aha…’ ‘I come to that church sometimes.’ Now I have two people talking to me. The body is dead because of sin [what he means, is our bodies are on the way there, from the moment of birth, death starts working in us, the aging process.] That’s just what’s happening. You know that you’re heading in that direction when part of your fellowship is around specialists. [I’m going to a back specialist real soon for ‘degenerative back disease.’] ‘Oh really, I have a specialist, I have someone who can take…Oh really, I have a great doctor for that.’ You know, you’re there, you’re maintaining at that point, patching up and trying to get a few more miles out of the ‘model.’ But the great news is, if the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us, that Spirit can never be subject to death, Christ has already gone there---it’s the Spirit of life, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ---and if the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, one day he’s going to do the same thing to your body that he did to the body of Jesus---blow it out of the ground, blow it out of the ground, a great thing. [To learn more about the first resurrection to immortality log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16_2.htm If you’re not fully aware of this exciting event, be sure to log on and read through this study of 1 Corinthians 15.]
Soul sleep verses soul remains conscious at death
Now it’s interesting, in the last week I had several conversations with people that asked me about ‘soul sleep’, talking about death. A few of my friends say when you die that you lay in your body in the ground until the resurrection. I ain’t doing that. [laughter] I ain’t doing that. Elijah when he goes up to Zeraphath and he’s staying with a widow, the widow’s son dies. Elijah throws himself on that boy three times and prays for that boy. It says the third time, his soul came into him again. The soul wasn’t laying there in the body. [Solomon talks of the spirit in man, which is this “soul” in Ecclesiastes. Solomon said that the spirit in man when he dies goes to heaven, but the spirit’s of the animals goes into the ground. But Solomon also said that the dead know nothing after death, indicating that this “spirit-in-man” could be unconscious when it goes to heaven (and is safely stored by the Lord), not conscious, until it is re-united with the new bodies we receive at the resurrection to immortality. This is one biblical interpretation based on solid Scripture in Ecclesiastes. Other more allegorical passages in the New Testament appear to point to the spirit-in-man being conscious after death. When the Bible leaves a teaching like this in an either-or category, it means it’s a totally secondary issue, and we’ll know when it happens, or we’ll know later, it’s not important. So believe whichever way you wish, and we’ll all find out when we die. Either way, in our next conscious moment, we’ll either be in heaven with the Lord, or awakening in our new resurrected bodies at Jesus Christ’s 2nd coming. Way too much preaching effort goes into this secondary Biblical issue. This passage that Pastor Joe gives of David could fit into either interpretation with no problems at all, conscious or unconscious ‘spirit-in-man.’ See http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm] David says of the young boy that died, of Bathsheba, he’s no longer going to come and be with me, but I will go to be with him, indicating that he had already departed. Paul said, ‘I’d rather depart and be with Christ.’ It’s far better. Paul doesn’t say, “Oh yippee, I can’t wait to lay in the dirt.” Lazarus and the rich man, they weren’t laying in their bodies. [that is an allegorical proverb, which could be taken literally or figuratively. But which way Jesus wanted us to take it is not clear.] Abraham’s bosom, the rich man in torment. Revelation chapter 6, the souls of those who were slain for Christ were under the altar in heaven talking to God, saying ‘How long oh Lord.’ They weren’t in their bodies. [This could be an allegorical passage too, or it could be meant to be taken literally. It’s one of those grey areas of biblical interpretation which different denominations differ on. We’ll find out later. And compared with the forever and forever time-span we’ll spend with the Lord in new spirit bodies, glowing like the sun after his 2nd coming, this temporary state of being “spirits” in heaven will be like a nano-second of our out-of-body existence. So much effort is expended on trying to nail down a totally temporary out-of-body existence we spend with the Lord in heaven waiting for the re-uniting with our bodies at his 2nd coming.]
Our new resurrection bodies
So, for you and I, though presently the law of sin and death is still having its ravages on the physical frame, we’re aging, we’re wearing out, we haven’t yet realized the purpose God has for this physical frame. Because the body that God has made for us to be eternal in the heavens, is a spirit-drive model, not a blood-drive system. ‘Touch me, doth a spirit have flesh and bone?’ It doesn’t say ‘flesh and blood.’ And that model is going through walls, appearing and disappearing---traveling, I assume, much faster than the speed of light---at the speed of thought. So, the promise is, one day, though this is not heaven now, this is earth, one day, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, that He will raise your physical frame also from the dead. See, we as Christians don’t just believe in life after death, some ozone, some spiritual realm. See Aunt Tillie and go and run right through her. Jesus said ‘Touch me.’ He said to Mary ‘Let go of me, I haven’t yet ascended to the Father.’ They embraced him, they held onto him. See, that’s resurrection. Not just life beyond the grave, it’s resurrection. That’s what we believe in. I think of so many from church that have gone on. And I have this great confidence that when I see them, there’s going to be a warm embrace, a reality. No, the more amazing thing is, that would indicate that just like those disciples on Resurrection morning, you’re also going to feel his embrace and put your arms around him. And it says “he himself will wipe the tears from our eyes.” What a day. All the food there is no-cal. No carbohydrate diets or protein diets. If your bald husband goes to heaven before you, somebody’s going to have to say ‘Oh, see that guy over there with all that long black hair? That’s him, and he doesn’t look like he did when he left, but who he is now.’ “Thirty Something”, seems like not a TV show but an eternal state. “But if the Spirit of him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you (verse 11).
We’re not indebted to the flesh
Therefore...”---now speaking about all this stuff we’re talking about. I’m talking to you that believe.---“Therefore brethren”---this is a family thing. If you’re not saved tonight, you think they got me from the banana farm, I know what you’re thinking. And you think they need to send me back to the banana farm. Brethren, this is for God’s family. “Therefore brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh to live after the flesh, for if you live”---perpetually---“after the flesh”---this is suppositional---“you shall die.” That’s the life of the unbeliever. “But if through the Spirit you do continually put to death the deeds of the body you shall live.” (verses 12-13) So what he says is this. ‘We’re not indebted to the flesh.’ Look at all this remarkable stuff we talked about. Yeah, we’re wearing out now, yes we live in a fallen world, yes, all of that is taking a toll on us. And yes, there’s this struggle within, we have this new-birth, and there is something in us that longs for the things of God, there is something in us that sets its affection on things above and not of things of the earth---something that was never there before the new-birth, that marvelous thing that takes place now. And God has taken away our hearts of stone and he has given us hearts of flesh, and our hearts break now and tears come to our tear ducts and God’s done a wonderful work in us. And he’s given us a future and a hope that is undefiled, incorruptible, that fadeth not away. He has put all of that before us, and as we consider all of that, Paul says, ‘So then, we’re not indebted to the flesh, there wasn’t anything in it, it was just bringing us to death.’ It never had anything for us and never produced anything in us. There was no future there, so we’re not indebted to it, to serve it, to yield to it. Because if that’s all we ever do, we’re not saved.
If you’re constantly killing the deeds of the flesh, you’ll live forever
But if through the Spirit, God’s Spirit, that’s the context, we do continually put to death the works of the flesh, we shall live, eternally. He says there’s a certain kind of living that causes death, and there’s a certain kind of killing that brings life. There’s a living that’s constantly geared toward the flesh, and if that’s the way someone lives, they’re headed towards death. There’s a killing which is constantly mortifying out---putting to death the deeds of the flesh---that leads to life. And we always have people in the church saying, “I’m tired, I can’t go on, I’m tired of it, I hate myself, I’m gonna kill myself.’ Well there’s a way to do that. And it ain’t the way you think. And I always say, there’s no sense killing your body. It got dressed, it came to church and it griped. It drove a car, it combed its hair, what you’re trying to kill is inside. You’re not trying to kill your body. You’re trying to kill the pain that’s inside. That’s how Satan deceives people in the world into thinking that if they kill themselves it will be over. No, it’s just beginning for eternity then. He knows he has them. [There are numerous differing beliefs about what hell is within the body of Christ. Be sure to check this interesting topic out at http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm.] But for the Christian, some feel like saying, ‘I don’t want to go on anymore. I don’t want to live.’ Now we understand some of that. Paul says, him and Silas despaired of life itself, they were pressed beyond measure. But Paul also tells us the secret. “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ liveth in me, and the life that I now live in the flesh I live for the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” There is a way to put ourselves to death, and it’s putting to death that thing inside. And if we live that way, habitually putting to death, killing, mortifying the deeds of the flesh, we’re headed for life. We’re headed for life, if we habitually live after the carnal nature, that’s evidence that we’re headed for death. We’re not saved. [Now various differing fellowships have different interpretations here. Calvary Chapel’s believe in the “once saved, always saved” doctrine. Others believe a believer can lose out if he or she enters back into habitual sin and doesn’t repent of it. Dr. Michael L. Brown says believers can become re-bound in sin. So there are differing interpretations here. The Bible teaches sort of in both directions, so this is definitely a doctrine in the gray area of interpretation. But if you find yourself in that boat and you know you’re a believer, this is what you do.] And the sad thing is you hear Christians say, “I can’t help myself, I didn’t mean to do it.” Yes you did. “I didn’t mean to drink [to excess], somebody grabbed me and pulled me into the bar, and made my mouth say ‘Give me a beer, a shot’n a beer,’ it just came out of my mouth and something made my hand go like this to the bar, and something made my hand go to my mouth and I was trying to fight it off and I couldn’t stop.” Wait a minute. It says we’re not debtors to the flesh to serve the flesh, we’re not indebted to the flesh. And through the power of God’s Holy Spirit we don’t have to do that. So, no one can say “I can’t help it, I just do it.” No, no, no, no. If you’re convinced that you have no strength over that, get alone with the Lord, and get on your knees, and say ‘Lord Jesus, you need to make the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus a reality in my life---not just to speak in tongues---but to be led of the Spirit of God, to have a transformed life. Lord, your power, your Holy Spirit, not just to talk about and have a theological position, but a reality in my life, Lord. Set me free, break this bondage. You’re the Lord of the universe, you’re Almighty, you’re my Strong Tower, you’re my Healer, you’re my Provider, you’re my Peace. Lord, you’re my Saviour, you’re my Father, my Brother, set me free.’ And I believe he can do that. And I live in the middle of thousands of people that are testimonies to the fact that he can do that. [There are over 3,000 people in Pastor Joe Focht’s congregation.] We’re not indebted to the flesh. We’re not debtors to that. It can’t come around and try to get payments out of us all of the time. We’re not indebted to it.
Those that are led of the Spirit are God’s kids
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (verse 14) As many as are led. Notice, the steam just isn’t in the engine to blow the whistle, it’s there to move the train. Those that are led, interesting, led. It means to be directed, led. It means to be guided. It’s used in the sense of a companion in a wedding ceremony, to be led is to have him as our companion. It’s used in the sense of being “protected.” Led, of God’s Spirit, guided and protected by him, strengthened by him, companioned by him, led of God’s Holy Spirit. “Those that are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” And by the way, and daughters.
God is adopting us into his family---What does that mean?
“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear”---slavery is the idea, you’re not a slave to fear---“but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father.” He says “we haven’t received the spirit of bondage again to fear.” (verse 15) How many Christians to you know, thinking ‘Oh, if I mess up, he’s got his gun out, he’s gonna make me dance. He’s gonna get me if I mess up, blam! He’s gonna shoot at my feet with lightning, make me dance, dance, you!’ You’re laughing, but how many Christians are in that bondage to fear? That’s not what he’s called us to. [remember that prayer he just gave for you to pray to Jesus, Yeshua, if you find yourself in bondage to a sin? When you pray that, you’re praying that to your elder Brother, Jesus, Yeshua, and to your heavenly Father, Abba. Through the Holy Spirit they come running and set you free. It’s a loving family relationship. Not all guilt ridden with fear. We may have a sense of fear when we sin, or of guilt. That’s good, it’s a soft Christian conscience working within us for good. But it shouldn’t be abject fear, a bondage type fear.] He’s our Father. We’re his sons. He’s given us the Spirit of adoption. And Paul, it wasn’t known the way he writes this out to the Greek mind even. This is something that Rome understood. You guys that watch Ben Hur, how many of you have seen Ben Hur? OK, those of you who haven’t, ask somebody who saw it. Remember, Charlton Heston is rowing in the Roman ship and they get in that naval battle, and [the ship gets hit and is sinking] he escapes and he ends up floating on this piece of wood with the Senator from Rome and saves his life. And when they get back to Rome, the Senator, having a big bash there [party], and he’s been given some kind of an award for a naval victory, and he was part of that, calls Charlton Heston, he calls him, and in front of everyone he puts a ring on his finger, changes his name [this was Roman adoption]. That’s what Paul’s talking about. It is receiving the adoption of adult sons and daughters, and making us joint heirs with Christ. When we can cry, Abba, Father, we immediately understand we’re talking to God Almighty. Now the problem is, as we read this, that God is taking us and bringing us into his family as sons and daughters. Now we are so wounded and scarred and beat up by the ‘old family’, Adams’ family, (not Morticia and uncle Festor [laughter]), Adam and Eve’s family and everything that has trickled down to us from them, all the inclination of Cain and Abel and the hatred and abuse. So many of us have our whole lives tenaciously had to fight for our sanity or we’ve learned so well to put up our defense mechanisms that we find as human beings that we can’t even break down those walls on the horizontal. And all of a sudden, we’re having this appeal to us from the vertical. The Holy Spirit is appealing to us, saying there’s another family. I remember talking to Don McLure and I saw the same thing here in our church, a family who adopted a little child from another country. They go out to Pizza Hut to eat dinner, and as their kids are eating the pizza, throwing the crusts on the plate, this other kid is taking the pieces of crust, wrapping them up in a napkin and putting it in his pants, putting it in his pockets. They found food hidden under his bed at home. You know, Don McLure, friends with a wealthy family that had adopted a child, eight or nine years old, from a poverty stricken country, and they would come into his bedroom in the day and find canned goods stuffed under his bed, find all this stuff gone, supplies, cold cuts from the refrigerator stuck under his bed. And you know, you have to say ‘Kid, the refrigerator is yours. Your stuff will stay fresher there than it will under your bed.’ ‘The toys in this room belong to you. The clothes in the closet are yours. All that I have I’ve bestowed upon you.’ The adoption of a son gives you the right to the inheritance. It gives you the right to every relationship. It gives you the right to every debt that’s owed to the one who’s adopted you. It gives you all of the benefits. And I think we struggle as we grow in Christ, to receive love that comes that freely with no strings attached. Love that knew the day it saved us, of all of the failings and wrestling’s that we’d have in the future and saved us anyway---love that reached to us and called us its own, even though we would do many things that wouldn’t reflect the One who called us to be his own, and he called us anyway. Love that is committed without strings being attached to conform us into the image and the likeness of his Son, love that is unlike any other earthly love that puts us in the position of either receiving it by faith, or not receiving it at all. We either get out of the boat and walk on the water, or we never experience the fullness of what God desires to give to us freely. Again, I love Camel Morgan’s analogy of Micah chapter 7 verse 18, where he says ‘Who is a God like unto thee, showing mercy, you’ll not always chide, but you’ll love, forgiving iniquity…’ And his point is, again, that you and I see something every day that God can’t see. We see something every day of our lives that God cannot see, and that is, we our equals---unforgiving, tempermental, crabby human beings. And when God looks around, all that can be said is “Who is a God like unto thee?” There isn’t anybody, there’s no equal. That’s what makes him holy, completely separate, because there is no one like him. All that exists is that which is God and that which is not God. All that exists is Creator and creation. That makes him holy. And it makes his love unlike any other love in the universe. We can’t put it on a graph and we can’t measure it. He doesn’t love us on a curve where those of us that are pretty good get a little more of his love than those of us who are miserable. It comes freely, it comes without strings attached, it comes to us without anything in us eliciting that love. There is no reason to it except for God himself. And in that he’s paid the price, for those of us who ask for forgiveness he’s filled us with his Spirit, set us free from sin and death, set a new law over our lives, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. He made us his sons and his daughters, removed from us the fear of death and put in its place the expectancy of heaven [or being in the kingdom of heaven]. And he’s given us the very Spirit of adoption whereby we cry Abba, Father. That somewhere deep within us, when we’re alone, there’s something deeper than human hearts that actually cries Abba, which is a term of endearment, Father. And unlike any human adoption, with all the benefits that may be there, this one differs in that he actually places the very Spirit of his Son within us, so that it’s the very Spirit of adoption. And when it [He] cries Abba, it is meaning what it says, Father. We actually become the sons and daughters of the Living God. “The Spirit itself [Greek: himself] beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that “we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (verses 16-17). ”---which could be “since we do suffer with him.” [To see just what it means to be an heir with Christ log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%20%2021-22.htm]
In the ages to come, throughout eternity…
And then Paul goes on in the next verse to say “I reckon…”, he’s from down South somewhere. And next week we’ll start “reckoning with Paul. I want to encourage you, as we sing this last song…and just honestly say “Lord”, and I’m going to say it, I’ve been saying it lately, more than ever, “Lord I want to grow in grace and in the knowledge of who you are.” You know, Paul the apostle had seen the risen Christ, Christ had appeared to him. Paul the apostle had performed miracles. God had worked through him, he had seen the miraculous before his eyes. Yet he would say, “I count everything else as refuse, that I may know him, the fellowship of his sufferings, the power of his resurrection…if by any means I may be conformable to his death.” You see, even in the ages to come, he’s still going to be revealing his mercy to us. Even in the ages to come we will never have seen the full measure of Who he is, because he will always be infinite, and we will always be finite. That means, zillions of years from now, there’s no time there, I’m just saying it so we can talk about it, for those of you who are scientific and can’t get past that---zillions of years from now, in the process of being conformed into his image and likeness, what that means is that we will always be approaching and yet never arriving at the full measure of the Infinite Son of God. Which means that in the ages to come, he’ll still be revealing his mercy to us. Which means, that’s why it’s incorruptible, it fades not away, because when we’re there a zillion years it will still be as exciting as it was the first minute we got there---because he will be as new and as shocking and as beautiful and surprising---we’ll always be seeing some facet of him that we have never seen before. I’m ready for that. You know, I watch the Rocky movies now, and just the same thing happens every time. Ah, there’s something I like about it, but I kind of know, you know, what’s gonna happen. No, there, ever fresh, ever glorious, ever wondrous. We will be as amazed, as we look at the throne of God and of the Lamb [which will be on earth, within the New Jerusalem, cf. Revelation 21:1-17], zillions of years after we’re there, we will still come before him, privately with the same wonder, and say “Lord Jesus, thanks for dying for me.” And it will be more wondrous the millionth time we’ve said it than it was the first time we said it. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you can think that we’re ready for the banana farm, that’s up to you… “ [transcript Romans 8:1-17, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116.] see http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Revelation%20%2021-22.htm.
Quotes from Harper’s Bible Commentary (on Romans 8)
[Romans] 8:1-17, A Forward Look: The Power of the Spirit to Effect Life for Righteousness...
“…the power of the law to condemn has been decisively broken (the resumption of [Romans] 5:16 and 7:3 is unmistakable). “The law of sin and death” (vs.2) is a shorthand summary of [Romans] 7:7-25; it is the Mosaic law used by sin in such a way as to cause death.
“The parallel phrase, “the law of the Spirit of life,” is clearly intended as a rhetorical counterpart and suggests that life is the result when the law is used by God’s Spirit, his life-giving presence and power, instead of sin.
“Like the expression “law of faith” in [Romans] 3:27, it joins what Paul often sets in tension; only the context can supply its meaning. But that context is clear enough. The law itself is not demonic; to link law with Spirit instead of sin is the logical sequel to the argument of chap. 6 that freedom in Christ is aimed at the reshaping of human life, both individual and corporate, according to the good that God wills for it. Verses 3-4 supply the grounding for this new connection by declaring that this was the whole purpose behind God’s “sending of his own Son.”…
“The fundamental contrast in the whole passage is between the inability and weakness on the one hand of the law to renew and reorder life so long as sin is in control, and the effectual life-giving power of God’s own presence in the Spirit on the other [i.e. when God’s Spirit is in control, the law takes on new meaning, and then serves the purpose for which it is ultimately intended---that it be written upon the hearts and into the minds of believers, now empowered to use it to reorder and renew life. That finishes this statement in Harper’s.
[so in essence, the law when being used by God’s Spirit, as a spiritual mirror, and being written into upon the hearts and minds of believers now has the power to reorder and renew spiritual life in a person---but that person must be indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit.]
Verses 5-8 elaborate briefly on the contrast between “flesh” and “Spirit” as these effect human beings. Each is a reality transcending the individual, but each is also a “mind-set” that involves a deliberate choice of values and human effort toward a goal…
“Above all, each is most basically a relationship to God. The one, flesh, is a regression to the deadly “enmity” and defiance that preceded reconciliation (cf. 5:10). The other, Spirit, is God’s life-giving presence and power. It is renewing because it creates a new mind-set that is not inimical to God, that submits to God’s law without the distrust that corrupts obedience into self-defensiveness, and that no longer allows God’s law to be used as an instrument [i.e. spiritual mirror] for holding one in its power.”
What we are seeing in Harper’s is that the law of God can have a good or bad effect on a person, dependant solely on whether God’s Holy Spirit is a part of the process, is indwelling the one using God’s law. The proper use of God’s law, the end-purpose, is that it will be written upon the hearts and into the minds of all born-again believers, who upon their glorious resurrection or change into spirit at Christ’s 2nd coming will be transformed into the image of Christ. If you don’t believe me, look up and read Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:6-13, the two places in the Bible that define the new covenant, and the very purpose for the law---to be written upon the hearts and into the minds of believers. Is something that is intended to be written upon our hearts and into our minds to be avoided or called evil? Why would the apostle John in 1 John 3:4 define sin as the transgression of God’s law, and why does the entire New Testament (and Old) for that matter, tell the believer to come out of sin---which is to say---“obey God’s law”---if the law no longer had a purpose in the believer’s life?
A person striving to obey God’s law all on his or her own, is accurately described by Harper’s as people who have corrupted obedience which lapses into self-defensiveness, and self-righteousness. The very ones who were so diligently keeping God’s law (externally, not in the heart) killed Jesus Christ. Keeping it brought no heart-change for those evil individuals. Also there is another category of individual who is at enmity with God and his law, those not indwelt by God’s Holy Spirit who have absolutely no desire for the things of God. They live for the flesh, this world and its society. They don’t even believe in God, or if they do, he’s an abstract concept which they don’t understand or care to understand.
“If these definitions of flesh and Spirit suggest that human choices are the ultimate determinates of human destiny, vv. 9-11 quickly correct that impression by returning to God’s primal life-bestowing act in the resurrection of Jesus (cf. 6:1-14). What is most striking about these verses is the free interchangeability of a whole series of phrases: “belonging to Christ” (v.9b), “being in the Spirit” (v.9a), “God’s Spirit dwelling in you” (vv. 9a, 11b), “Christ’s Spirit” (v.9b). “Christ in you” (v.10), and “the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead” (v.11). Each interprets the others and is interpreted by them. God is the one who gives life to the dead (4:17); he has raised Jesus from the dead. The Spirit is not the possession of some elite group within the church. It is another word for God’s life-giving power present through Jesus to all that belong to him, active already in their lives in spite of the mortality that still belongs to the body, working toward righteousness and undergirding the promise that the Son’s identification with them will issue ultimately in their sharing in his resurrection (cf. 6:5,8). The Spirit is not only a mind-set; nor is it [he] merely the external power by which God raised Jesus from the dead. It [he] is also the power of the risen Jesus to take men and women into his power and reshape life to make it well pleasing to God---thus doing what the law [all on its own] could not do and reversing the power of sin. That is why Paul could call the gospel “the power of God for salvation to all who rely on him, the Jew first and also the Greek” (1:16).
Verses 12-17 bring this unit to a close...Obedience is not finally the work of self but the result of the Spirit’s leading. The Spirit produces an authentic filial relationship to God in place of slavery and verifies that gift by enabling people to address God with the intimate term “Father”…The Aramaic word “Abba”…Daddy.